PPL plans Susquehanna outage to fix turbine issues

PPL (NYSE: PPL) has scheduled an additional outage at the Susquehanna nuclear plant in Pennsylvania this spring to tackle turbine blade issues that have affected both units recently.

“While the additional scheduled Susquehanna outage impacts projected 2013 earnings by about 5 cents per share, implementing a long-term solution sooner than previously planned reduces future risk and minimizes the overall financial effect on PPL,” PPL Chairman, President and CEO Phil Spence said during a Feb. 14 earnings conference call.

In its presentation to financial analysts, the company said that it has identified the causes of Susquehanna turbine blade cracking. PPL said the upcoming work should restore operating performance to historic levels.

NRC’s most recent reactor status report showed both Susquehanna Units 1 and 2 operating at 99%. The two boiling water reactor (BWR) units together have a generating capacity of more than 2,500 MW.

Company officials said a regularly-scheduled refueling and maintenance outage will be held at one unit while a purely maintenance outage will be held at the other. The work should occur this spring.

Unit 2 experienced a 12-day outage in December after an electrical connection problem caused an automatic shutdown during a routine, scheduled turbine valve test.

NRC has also noted that Unit 1 has experienced “fatigue cracking.” The units are located in Luzerne County, Pa.

During the earnings call, PPL officials also said they were experimenting with lower-rank coals at some of the company’s coal-fired power plants.

PPL reported earnings per share of 60 cents for the fourth quarter of 2012. That’s compared to 78 cents for the same period in 2011. Earnings from operations for 4Q 2012 was 49 cents, compared to 71 cents for the same period in 2011.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.